Sunday, August 21, 2016, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 3 (ESV). Scoffers Will Come (vv. 1-7) This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. Jesus Christ came to this earth around 2,000 years ago. He lived to about the age of 33. He was crucified on a cross for our sins, then the Father resurrected him from the dead. After about 40 days, I believe it was, he ascended back to the Father, and then he sent his Holy Spirit to the earth to indwell and to empower his followers. While he walked the face of this earth he told his followers that he would come again one day to take them to be with him forever, and that he was going to prepare a place for them. Jesus, the prophets before him, and the apostles after him all prophesied concerning the events of the last days and what would take place before Jesus will return for his bride and to judge the people of this world. Since it has been such a long time now since Jesus spoke those words concerning his return to the earth, though, there are people who are trying to put doubts in people’s minds regarding the legitimacy of Jesus’ words. Yet, just because Jesus has not yet returned, it does not mean that he is not coming or that his words, and the words of the prophets, and those of the apostles cannot be trusted. God/Jesus will do what he has promised he will do. Yet, in our generation of instant this and quick that, and fast food restaurants, etc., so many people today have little to no patience. They want everything instantaneously or they get frustrated, and maybe even angry. And, they may even be angry with God because he is not moving fast enough for them in doing what they want him to do. I find that, even among Christians, or among those who profess to know Christ, that there are many doubters concerning the second coming of Christ and the events surrounding his return. The biggest thing I notice, though, is not that they doubt that these events will take place, but they don’t believe any of these occurrences will happen to them, or that any of them will happen in their lifetime. They assume that everything will continue as it has for generations, and that they will live until old age, and not much differently than they are living now. They have on blinders when it comes to the signs of Jesus’ soon return and concerning prophecy of scripture being fulfilled before our eyes in real time. They are not watching and waiting expectantly for Christ’s return, because they want to live their lives on this earth for themselves, and for self-pleasure, and so they ignore the realities around them, and they don’t want to hear messages about coming judgment, either. He is Not Slow (vv. 8-10) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. What we need to keep in mind here is that God is not on our timetable. He doesn’t even interpret time the same way as we do. We may pray and hope for him to act in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones, and on our timetable, but God has his own timing for everything, and we may not understand it, either. That is where we just have to rest in him and trust him that he knows best. He is not slow, as some of us may think. He chose us and called us even before he made the world. He is completely sovereign over all he has made, too. Sometimes we might wish he would move a little faster in our situations and in our relationships, but we don’t see the BIG PICTURE. HE DOES! And, his timing is always perfect. We may have to endure some trials and tribulations, and we may have to wait on the Lord to change the hearts of our loved ones who are far from God, but we have to let God be God, and believe that he has it all worked out for our good. Holiness and Godliness (vv. 11-13) Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. The fear of the Lord seems to be all but lost these days. Many who call themselves Christians have no incentive to live holy lives pleasing to God because they believe they are saved, that nothing can take that away from them, and that it matters not how they live at all, but that one day they will go to heaven when they die. They take God and his grace for granted, and they believe God will never discipline them or correct them. And, so they call themselves Christians, but what they are following is not Christ but man-made religion. They have bought into a lie which denies the truth of the gospel message regarding death to sin and living to righteousness, and which denies that God will ever use corrective measures on those who do follow him, and so they think they have an easy ride, and that they can live however they want and that God is pleased with them. They must be among those who pick and choose a few select verses of scripture on which to “hang their hats,” while ignoring the bulk of teaching on holiness and righteousness in the New Testament. We are taught in scripture with regard to our former way of life that we are to put it to death, and that we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. If we continue to walk (conduct our lives) in sin, but we say we have fellowship with God, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:6). Take Care (vv. 14-18) Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:13 says: “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” This should excite those of us, who live on the earth where wickedness dwells, that one day we will live in a place where only righteousness dwells. We will no longer be tempted to sin, nor will we sin, nor will we be impacted by the sins of others. There will be no more pain or sorrow. Jesus will wipe the tears from our eyes. Amen! And, we will live in peace with our Lord forever and ever. Praise God! If we truly love God, and we are called according to his purpose, and we love his Word and his people, and our desire is for our Lord to do his will, then we should be found to be diligent in the matter of walking in the Spirit, in our Lord’s holiness and righteousness. We should no longer love to wander and to go our own way, doing our own thing. We should desire to please our Lord in all that we are, and do, and say. We shouldn’t be just hearers of the Word, but we should be doers of the Word, putting its truths daily into practice in our lives, all in the power and working of God’s Spirit within us. We must be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of deception and follow after a false gospel message which teaches a “Do Nothing” gospel. There are many who are twisting the Word of God to their own advantage, and they are gaining many followers after themselves. They tell people what their itching ears want to hear, i.e. messages that do not confront sin, but that entertain it, and that do not offend with the truth of the gospel, but that make people feel good about themselves in their sin. So, we must be students of the Word so that we know what it teaches, so that we are not led astray by these deceptions. But, we must keep walking in the Spirit and no longer gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh. We must walk in holiness and purity and be attentive to do the will of God for our lives. And, we have to not let what other humans say or do to get us to be afraid or to doubt God and his promises. Our Lord is with us wherever we go, and he will take care of us. His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014 Fear not! I’m with you. Be not dismayed! God watches o’er you. Trust Him today. He’ll lead and guide you; Give you His aid. He’ll love and keep you With Him always. Walk in His footsteps. He’ll lead the way. Trust in His love; Believe that He cares. He will not leave you. Faithful He’ll be. His tender mercies Now you will see. Fellowship with Him Throughout the day. Tell Him your heartaches. He’ll heal always. Rest in His comfort. He is your friend. Your faith He’ll strengthen, True to the end.